Atheists often post about the specter of Christian repression, while ignoring where the real intolerance is coming from in modern society.
Indeed, the most troubling issue in this case is not Schneider’s views on vaccinations; it is the response from his opponents. Rather than argue against his position, this vocal minority has called for Schneider to be cast out for his heretical views. As with many other recent cases where a celebrity figure breaks from the ‘progressive dinner-party position’ (think of former Mozilla boss Brendan Eich’s opposition to gay marriage), this intolerant reaction is far more concerning than the supposedly abhorrent views being attacked.
Rather than face the anti-vaccination brigade head-on, with vigorous arguments making a reasoned case for vaccinations, this loud and intolerant mob have demanded Schneider’s image be removed from our TV screens for fear that even a glimpse of him may convince the masses that the US government is trying to poison us all with autism-laced flu jabs. It is this infantilising and patronising outlook that is creating a situation in which debate is painted as something to be feared, and scientifically determined ‘truth’ cannot be questioned.
Now more than ever, as more and more ideas are marked as ‘off the table’ and dissident ideas are casually silenced, we need to reinvigorate public debate. This will, of course, mean that quackery and nonsensical ideas will get an airing, but this will also provide a platform in which these ideas can be challenged and confronted. The last thing we need today is to inoculate ourselves from the free exchange of ideas.//